The virtue of hope, perhaps less understood than those of faith and charity, should never be confused with human optimism which is more a state of mind. For a Christian, hope is Jesus personified in the Eucharist and in the Word. That’s the essence of what Pope Francis said at this morning’s daily mass at the Vatican guesthouse Santa Marta.
Hope is a gift from Jesus; hope is Jesus himself and bears his name, Pope Francis said in his homily. But it’s not the kind of hope that you find in a person who usually looks at “a half full glass” – that’s simply “optimism” and “optimism is a human attitude that depends on many things.”
Recalling the Gospel reading in which Jesus heals a man with a paralyzed hand and is criticized by the scribes and Pharisees, Pope Francis observed that through his miracle, Jesus shows them how their’s “is not the way of liberty.” “Liberty and hope,” the Pope said, “go together: where there is no hope, there can be no liberty.” And, the Pope said that with that gesture, Jesus shows us the power of renewal through Him.
“Jesus, hope, renews everything. He’s a constant miracle.” Christ, the Pope said, embodies this “miracle of renewal” in the Church, “in my life, your life, in our life.” “Christ is the reason for our hope,” he said, “and this hope does not delude.”
The Holy Father also had a word for his fellow clergy. Noting that it’s “a little sad” when “one finds a priest without hope,” Pope Francis said it is beautiful to find one who arrives at the end of life “not with optimism, but with hope.” “This priest, he continued, is linked to Jesus Christ and the people of God need us priests to give them this sign of hope, living this hope in Jesus who renews all.”
And he pointed to the Madonna’s great hope in her son, as an example for all to follow. Even in her darkest hour, he said, she had “That hope: She had it. It’s that hope that renews all.
Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!